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Old 28-11-2016, 04:21 AM
AEAJR (Ed)
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Cool Saturday 11/26/16 - Astronomy Party

Saturday 11/26/16 - 7:30 to 9:30 Stillwoods park, Long Island, New York, USA. 45 degrees F with moderate breeze.

Orion XT8i, 38 & 25 mm 2" 70 degree, Celestron zoom (with moon filter) and EX 82 6.7 mm, Mead HE60 4.5 mm 10X50 binoculars

Friendís equipment - 76mm Tasco reflector, Celestron LCM 114 w/Celestron zoom

I had one of my private star parties last night. 3 newbie friends joined me for a couple of hours of star gazing. I had prepared two observation lists for myself but never got to them as I was having more fun working with my friends and helping them learn about the sky.

When I left my house around 7:15 pm the sky was completely clear. I drove 1.5 miles to the observation site and when I got out of the car the sky was completely covered in clouds. WHAT? But I could see a clear line to the clouds and in 15 minutes the sky was clear again and stayed clear all evening.

This site was pretty good up to this visit. All the leaves were off the trees and the street and building lights of the building complex next door were no longer blocked. While this is still better than my house it is no longer a worthwhile place to come. Too much light. But in the spring, when the leaves come back it will be good again.

New target - Uranus- One of my friends asked if we could see planets. I said Mars and Venus had gone below the horizon but Uranus was high and that I have never tried for that one. So I set up the XT8i Intelliscope and we went after it. It took a few minutes looking at star after star and eliminating them and then we found it. This little blue dot that did not twinkle. I worked my way up to about 266X with the 4.5 mm.

At 266X it was still quite small but it was almost perfectly round and a lovely shade of light blue. Clearly not a star. Everyone wanted to see. I was pretty pleased with myself. I explained that it is about 1.5 billion miles away so that the light we were seeing had traveled over 3 billion miles and that was pretty incredible. We all agreed that astronomy is quite cool when you start to understand what you are really doing.

Off in the distance someone was running a HUGE fireworks display. Didn't occur to turn the binoculars or the scope in that direction but we stopped to watch for a couple of minutes.

We looked at the Orion Nebula, Pleiades and I demonstrated the difference in eyepieces, brightness and field of view. Then we went for the Andromeda Galaxy noting that this was 2.5 million light years away.

After that we shifted to my friend's Celestron LCM 114. He had never gotten this GoTo aligned before. He did the set-up while I was working with my scope so I don't know how he did it but he said he got a successful alignment. So, now to test it. I entered M42 and the scope began a VERY VERY slow slew over to Orion. It was no where near the nebula but he had just put a Telrad on the scope and that helped me manually position the scope with the hand set.

He liked my Celestron zoom so he had gotten one. We spent time looking at the nebula and talking about eyepieces, barlows and such. I brought over a 2X barlow to demo that. We admired the nebula at various magnifications from about 40X to about 125X.

He also liked my Celestron 15X70s binoculars so he got a pair of those too. Mine are on a Monopod. He was hand holding them and having trouble. He will get used to using them.

Another wanted to discuss AP equipment, not my strong suite. But while we were talking, a meteorite fireball went off. Bright red. He was looking directly at it. I just caught it out of the corner of my eye. That is the second time I have seen one of these while out observing and again, around 9:30 pm. Pretty spectacular but nothing that is going to make the news.

9:30 and I started to pack up as the dew was forming and I told my wife I would be home around 10. As I was putting away I noticed that I had the moon filter on my zoom. Stupid! I had used that when we were looking at the supermoon and forgot to take it off. No wonder the views all seemed much darker than what I had expected. A 25% ND moon filter is going to absorb 75% of the light. Oh well. Still had fun.

Saturday night was not about serious astronomy. This was much more about being out with friends enjoying an evening under the stars. I had my first view of Uranus ( love the Intelliscope) and helped friends learn about the sky and about their equipment.

Another great evening!
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Old 04-12-2016, 09:10 PM
Tropo-Bob (Bob)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AEAJR View Post
Saturday 11/26/16 - 7:30 to 9:30

New target - Uranus- One of my friends asked if we could see planets. I said Mars and Venus had gone below the horizon but Uranus was high and that I have never tried for that one. So I set up the XT8i Intelliscope and we went after it. It took a few minutes looking at star after star and eliminating them and then we found it. This little blue dot that did not twinkle. I worked my way up to about 266X with the 4.5 mm.

At 266X it was still quite small but it was almost perfectly round and a lovely shade of light blue.
You inspired me; I was out of date and thought Uranus was gone by now. I actually am a bit shocked how far it has moved since I last saw it. Anyway, I used my 127mm Meade and at 67x its tiny disc was obvious.

A nice bright, wide double nearby (Zeta Pisces-actually in the same field at low power) was of interest to me and also made a great reference point since I find things by old-fashion star hopping.
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Old 05-12-2016, 03:25 AM
AEAJR (Ed)
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Congratulations on finding Uranus.

Now I have to make a run at Neptune. I might have a shot at it tonight between 6 and 7 pm, if the clouds don't roll in early. In my New York skies Neptune will be at about 35 degrees above the horizon but in the most light polluted part of my sky.

If I get a chance I may give it a try tonight.
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:56 PM
Tropo-Bob (Bob)
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Congratulations on finding Uranus.

Now I have to make a run at Neptune... In my New York skies Neptune will be at about 35 degrees above the horizon but in the most light polluted part of my sky.
Neptune is much fainter than Uranus and only once have I had a sky steady enough to be able to use enough magnification to show the disc. Still, some observers are able to see Triton. Hats off to them, and best of luck to U!
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Old 07-12-2016, 08:49 AM
AEAJR (Ed)
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Clouds, clouds and more clouds. I fear by time I get clear skies Neptune will be gone for a while.

We pass opposition in September so we are moving away fast and it is getting lower and lower in the sky.

Next September we will be in opposition again. Plenty of time to plan. But I will still look for an opportunity to make an attempt.

Afterall, Neptune is about 2.8 B miles from the Sun. As we go around the Sun we move about 200 M miles so less than 10% of the distance of Neptune to the Sun. I don't think that will be all that noticeable.
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Old 07-12-2016, 12:18 PM
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Tinderboxsky (Steve)
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Let's hope you get an opportunity to catch Neptune this season, Ed. it is well positioned in Aquarius to find by a simple star hop from Skat.
I had good views at a Tasmanian Astronomical Society observing night in late October. I could not resolve a disc but the colour and it being not quite resolved as a point of light confirmed the observation. At just under mag 8, it is well resolved against the nearby faint star field. Neptune has only dropped a fraction of a magnitude since opposition.

Cheers

Steve

Last edited by Tinderboxsky; 07-12-2016 at 12:19 PM. Reason: Correction
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